This was not the post that was supposed to go first … but it would be wrong to not write it.
I was working on a very different post several mornings ago. The day started out like many others. This time, it was in a parking lot of a casino resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not that the place mattered.
Shortly after the dogs had their breakfast, we got the first inkling that “the day” had come for our “lump of love”. Ginger, the ancient queen, was having some sort of “event”. She was struggling to stand, trembling, couldn’t walk for periods, and was uncomfortable or worse.
We’ve been through the loss of too many beloved companions but it is never easy to know when it is time. We held on to Charlie too long. He knew it was time to go, but we held on to him because we weren’t ready. Only when he demanded to go outside in the rain to go lay under a tree did we surrender and take him in. But this time, with Ginger, we weren’t in denial. Neither of us really expected to return to Texas in the fall with three dogs. The writing has been on the wall for a while that Ginger was in decline, but she continued to eagerly participate in the usual highlights of a dog’s day: eating and going for walks, which, in Ginger’s case was actually going for rides in the jogger, but she quickly loaded up in anticipation of getting a cookie for her effort.
After some discussion, we headed on towards Durango, Colorado with Laura monitoring the old girl. After a couple of hours, we pulled over for a comfort break. We lifted Ginger and it was clear. She declined food. Human food. She tried to stand to do her business, but wasn’t successful. She lay peacefully on the ground, still stoic, but we had a sense that systems were shutting down. She no longer responded to us, even with her bigger-than-big eyes.
The decision was made that Durango was too far. The next community of any size with a vet available will have to do… we don’t want to prolong her suffering. Laura found a hospital in Farmington, New Mexico. The staff was terrific, even if the circumstances weren’t. Ginger left us. The grief hasn’t.
Having two dogs will be so much easier. In addition to not being able to go for walks, other than in the jogger, Ginger had also been deaf for the past several months. We developed some gesture-based commands that she responded to, but you couldn’t just call her… well you could, and we did ‘cause we’d forget… but it didn’t do any good. She had to see you with her one good eye. She took more pills than the rest of the family combined and her medical conditions caused a great deal of worry. Like I said, having two dogs is going to be so much easier, but right now, it really isn’t. Someone is missing. Someone larger than life. Ginger had a presence that people responded to. So did dogs. Never once did we see another dog respond aggressively to her. We called her “our Ambassador” because of her way of approaching strange dogs that put them at ease. She was a special girl.
We have and will continue on, but our lives are less for her loss.